Greentown Houston has two new automation tools from its corporate partners. Photo via Greentown Labs/LinkedIn

Houston’s Greentown Labs announced new resources and equipment for its members thanks to two corporate partnerships.

Greentown Houston is now home to new tools from Emerson and Puffer to help members implement strong foundations for access to contextualized data.

Automation is the theme with the latest resources, as the process assists with a startup's journey to “standardization and scalability” according to a news release from Greentown Labs. Members will have access to these two units and platforms. The DeltaV Automation Platform is a data-driven decision-making resource that aims to improve operational performance while reducing risks, costs, and downtime. It integrates real-time analytics, advanced automation solutions, sophisticated control systems, and lifecycle services.

Puffer-Sweiven is a localized, single point of contact for sales, service, and applied engineering for Emerson Automation Solutions in the Texas Gulf Coast and Central Texas area with the capabilities to combine with other members in North America to leverage global reach and technologies. Puffer is an Emerson Impact Partner.

With access to the two units, Greentown Labs member companies can further explore easy-to-use, integrated-by-design DeltaV Distributed Control System. With the system, companies and members can better scale new technologies into pilot scale, optimize processes for high quality products, and implement a smart foundation for access to contextualized data. Global ROC is one company that is already utilizing the new resources at Greentown Labs.

“Our member Global ROC, which is developing a solution for cooling tower systems that reduces chemical consumption, saves water, and reduces energy costs, plans to use the system in two ways,” Global ROC CEO Ely Trujillo said to Greentown Labs via LinkedIn.

The startup will be able to create a control method that can be applied to future projects by using and comparing Global ROC’s products with the Delta V’s advanced function blocks. Trujilloalso plans to train team members to set up a Proportional Integral Derivative (PID) controller. The PID involves building a lab test box that connects to the DeltaV’s CHARM modules to control a process to a temperature by varying amperage through the DeltaV’s PID controller.

As part of the 3-year kickoff of the Texas Exchange for Energy and Climate Entrepreneurship (TEX-E), Greentown Labs also celebrated 87 Texas students from The University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, University of Houston, Rice University, Prairie View A&M University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have been accepted into this year's Fellowship. The students will gain access to hands-on experiences including internships, pitch competitions, entrepreneurship bootcamps, courses, and conferences geared to help the climate and energy-transition innovation field.

In

March, Greentown Labs and Browning the Green Space were named the newest accelerator for the Advancing Climatetech and Clean Energy Leaders Program, or ACCEL. The seven selected startups will have a year-long curated curriculum, incubation at Greentown's two locations, and a non-dilutive $25,000 grant.

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

Here's your roundup of energy innovation news coming out of Houston. Photo via Getty Images

Incubator announces new program, Houston startup names new partner, and more energy innovation news

short stories

Houston's energy innovation ecosystem has seen a busy spring season, with startup accelerator cohorts announced, expanded corporate partnerships, and recent funding raised.

In this roundup of short stories within Houston energy innovation, a startup enters into a strategic partnership, Greentown Labs announces a new accelerator, and more.

Syzygy taps global company to lead scaling for tech development 

Syzygy has brought on a new partner that's key to its future growth and tech production. Photo via Emerson

Houston-based Syzygy Plasmonics, which has developed a light-based catalyst reactor technology that originated out of Rice University, has selected global technology and software company Emerson (NYSE: EMR) to automate electrification of chemical production processes.

The reactor technology uses light instead of thermal energy for chemical manufacturing. The all-electric production method has the opportunity to replace fossil fuel-based combustion, making energy generation more sustainable. Syzygy estimates, according to the news release, that its reactor systems could eliminate 1 gigaton of CO2 emissions by 2040.

“We are excited to advance this opportunity with Emerson not only for its automation technologies and software but also its sustainability leadership and domain expertise in chemical engineering, electrification and hydrogen production,” says Syzygy CEO Trevor Best in the release. “As we expand beyond traditional paradigms of reactor technology and launch a new way to electrify chemical manufacturing, we wanted a technology partner who can help us scale our technology efficiently, safely and reliably.”

Emerson will provide its suite of hardware, software, and services for the Syzygy modular reactors.

"Emerson is excited to collaborate with Syzygy Plasmonics on such promising technology that could have a significant impact on industries that are some of the most challenging to decarbonize," says Peter Zornio, CTO at Emerson. “This aligns with Emerson’s culture of innovation that takes on our customers’ biggest challenges.”

Greentown Labs announces applications opening for Shell accelerator

Shell is seeking energy tech companies. Photo via greentownlabs.com

Greentown Labs, a climatetech incubator co-located in Houston and Boston, has teamed up with Shell for a Greentown Go program, geared at accelerating startup-corporate partnerships, to focus on technologies for carbon utilization, storage, and traceability.

Greentown Go Make 2023 zeroing in on alternative carbon feedstocks for carbon-intensive commodities; biogenic and nature-based solutions; and solutions for carbon storage and traceability, according to a news release.

Applications are open now, and the selected startups will have access to mentorship from Shell and Greentown's networks, desk space and membership within Greentown, $15,000 in non-dilutive grant funding, and educational workshops throughout the duration of the six-month program.

“Greentown Go brings together groundbreaking climatetech startups and the corporations that can help commercialize and scale their technologies,” says Kevin T. Taylor, interim CEO and CFO at Greentown Labs, in a news release. “Every Greentown Go program aims to drive climate impact and accelerate the energy transition. We look forward to working with Shell, a long-time Greentown partner, on this important program and supporting the latest innovations in carbon utilization, storage, and traceability.”

The program will help support Shell’s strategy through the development and scaling of technologies for carbon utilization, storage, and traceability across chemicals, carbon fuels, and more.

“Collaboration to accelerate technology development is critical to developing the energy solutions we need for a low-carbon energy future, and I am excited to see what novel technologies arise from startups participating in the Greentown Go Make 2023 program,” says Ed Holgate, commercial partnerships manager at Shell.

Chevron Technology Ventures adds Canadian startup to its Catalyst Program

Motive.io ia using AI to optimize workforce training. Photo via Motive.io

Chevron Technology Ventures announced the addition of Vancouver-based Motive.io, which provides immersive training solutions that leverage virtual and augmented reality technologies, to its Catalyst program. The program seeks out and helps to grow breakthrough technologies and solutions that have the potential to disrupt the energy industry.

"We are honored and thrilled to be selected as part of Chevron Technology Ventures' Catalyst program," says Ryan Chapman, CEO of Motive.io, in a news release. "Selection for this program represents a tremendous opportunity for Motive.io to collaborate with Chevron Technology Ventures as we continue to advance our cutting-edge immersive training solutions for the energy sector."

Motive.io's technology, called the XR Management System, "aims to revolutionize how companies train their employees by providing realistic and interactive simulations that allow learners to practice their skills in a safe and controlled environment," according to a news release.

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Report ranks Houston as a top global city — with one thing holding it back

take note

A new analysis positions the Energy Capital of the World as an economic dynamo, albeit a flawed one.

The recently released Oxford Economics Global Cities Index, which assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the world’s 1,000 largest cities, puts Houston at No. 25.

Houston ranks well for economics (No. 15) and human capital (No. 18), but ranks poorly for governance (No. 184), environment (No. 271), and quality of life (No. 298).

New York City appears at No. 1 on the index, followed by London; San Jose, California; Tokyo; and Paris. Dallas lands at No. 18 and Austin at No. 39.

In its Global Cities Index report, Oxford Economics says Houston’s status as “an international and vertically integrated hub for the oil and gas sector makes it an economic powerhouse. Most aspects of the industry — downstream, midstream, and upstream — are managed from here, including the major fuel refining and petrochemicals sectors.”

“And although the city has notable aerospace and logistics sectors and has diversified into other areas such as biomedical research and tech, its fortunes remain very much tied to oil and gas,” the report adds. “As such, its economic stability and growth lag other leading cities in the index.”

The report points out that Houston ranks highly in the human capital category thanks to the large number of corporate headquarters in the region. The Houston area is home to the headquarters of 26 Fortune 500 companies, including ExxonMobil, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Sysco.

Another contributor to Houston’s human capital ranking, the report says, is the presence of Rice University, the University of Houston and the Texas Medical Center.

“Despite this,” says the report, “it lacks the number of world-leading universities that other cities have, and only performs moderately in terms of the educational attainment of its residents.”

Slower-than-expected population growth and an aging population weaken Houston’s human capital score, the report says.

Meanwhile, Houston’s score for quality is life is hurt by a high level of income inequality, along with a low life expectancy compared with nearly half the 1,000 cities on the list, says the report.

Also in the quality-of-life bucket, the report underscores the region’s variety of arts, cultural, and recreational activities. But that’s offset by urban sprawl, traffic congestion, an underdeveloped public transportation system, decreased air quality, and high carbon emissions.

Furthermore, the report downgrades Houston’s environmental stature due to the risks of hurricanes and flooding.

“Undoubtedly, Houston is a leading business [center] that plays a key role in supporting the U.S. economy,” says the report, “but given its shortcomings in other categories, it will need to follow the path of some of its more well-rounded peers in order to move up in the rankings.”

6 Houston startups graduate early-stage accelerator

ready to grow

The latest cohort of promising Houston startups has made it through the local program for the the world's largest pre-seed startup accelerator.

The Houston Founder Institute graduated its 2024 cohort this month, celebrating the class on May 21. The organization also opened applications for its next round.

"After meticulous selection process and intense four months of aggressive business-building sprints, constant evaluation, and feedback from investors and mentors, just 6 companies were able to make it through," the organization writes in a blog post. "Each of these Founders have demonstrated a high level of perseverance and creativity, and their businesses have been thoroughly vetted and supported by a panel of Houston's top startup experts and investors."

The newest alumni of the Houston program include:

  • Quickgredients, a company that's empowering diners with dietary needs and attract new customers for food businesses through targeted marketing and efficient management.
  • Truckersfinder, a platform connecting trucking companies to essential service providers to streamline their operations.
  • SEKCO, which is developing a technology to help laundry business operators offer a service to wash and press in five minutes or less by integrating wet vacuum cleaning and pressing in manual or automated stations.
  • Gym Rat, a hardware-software integration to improve and better track the fitness experience.
  • ReachAI is impowering small and medium-sized enterprises to elevate their digital footprint and online visibility through cutting-edge marketing strategies and comprehensive web presence optimization solutions.
  • STEMperts, a platform that's helping students learn better and improve grades by engaging them through a combination of interests and learning styles.

Houston Founder Institute is run by local directors James Phelan, Martín Martinez, Mery Ramirez, and Natasha Gorodetsky.

Following the completion of the program, the portfolio companies continue to have access to the Founder Institute's global network and post-graduate support programs to continue building their business.